Sunday, August 30, 2009

Dueling GPSs

I have been on a trip visiting friends my wife Julie and I have wanted to see, but never had the time. Our previous retirement “vacations” have been to see things or do things. Some of the friends are long lost school mates, friends from the Washington, DC area where we lived for many years, relatives and our dispersed children and their families. It will be an 18 day, 4,700 mile trip by the time we finish next Thursday.

To ensure we arrived where we wanted to go, when we wanted to be there, we equipped ourselves with two GPSs (one a built-in, another, a portable Magellan), as well as Mapquest printouts for each leg. A bit of overkill, but we have been very, very lost on past trips.

The multiple voices guiding us often have given conflicting instructions with one more insistent than the other. Julie named the shrillest Maggie Magellan, but as the trip progressed she became Naggy Maggie. Generally we used Mapquest as the tie breaker, but the calmer sultry voice of the built-in often had me giving preference to her. To counter that, Julie turned the volume down from Naggy Maggie and substituted her own even more sultry voice. Calm, sultry, reassuring female voices always win. In general the Magellan gave the best directions for routes we are familiar with. It, like Mapquest, can be adjusted in advance to follow a preferred route or freeway exits. Possibly there is a way to do it with the built-in (Toyota Prius) but I couldn’t find it. It would give 3 choices (two fastest and the shortest). Estimated Time Enroute also is vastly different for the three systems, with the Prius’s giving the highest time allowance for “pit stops.” The Magellan has been closest to uninterrupted driving time and Mapquest in between, but closer to the Magellan.

As our travels went on, we adjusted to the difference. In one case, the Prius system did not have the ten miles of public roads plotted leading to a community on Albemarle Sound in North Carolina. Fortunately both of the others did. But with freeway driving, it has extremely helpful split screen displays to aid in making the correct turn at the right time. So it is upward and onward with three young ladies guiding me. Life can’t get any better.

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